TOKYO (Japan) – The Japan Basketball Association (JBA) have formally announced the 24-player preliminary roster for Japan for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup 2022.
The list is headlined by the return of Yuta Watanabe. The forward who plays for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA was a key part of the national teams that competed in the recent Tokyo Olympics and FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. At the Olympics, Watanabe averaged 17.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
If he makes the final cut for Asia Cup 2022, it will be his second appearance in the competition. Watanabe previously made his senior national team debut at Asia Cup 2013 back when he was 18 years old. Since then, he’s also played for Japan at the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.
Joining Watanabe as a headliner for this list of names is Yudai Baba. The high-flying forward is another Japanese talent that has been playing professionally outside of the country, both in the NBA G-League and in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) over the past few years. Baba is one of the four returnees from the Asia Cup 2017 squad along with Yuki Togashi, Takatoshi Furukawa, and Tenketsu Harimoto.
The only player on this list that played in the Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers is Yuki Togashi, while the majority of the team carries over from the teams that have been playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers. This includes the breakout stars, Luke Evans and Yudai Nishida.
Another interesting pair of names listed among the 24 are U18 Asian Championship 2018 standouts, Yuki Kawamura and Keisei Tominaga. The two dazzled the fans with their play at the youth level and have the potential to do the same at the senior level as well should they make the final Asia Cup 2022 team.
Japan were drawn to Group C for the Group Phase of Asia Cup 2022. They will play their first game against Kazakhstan on July 13, followed by a clash against Syria on July 15, and closing out the Group Phase in an exciting matchup against Iran on July 17.
This will be Japan’s 28th consecutive appearance in the Asia Cup and 29th appearance over all for the two-time Asia Cup champions. They made the Semi-Finals in Asia Cup 2015 and will be aiming to achieve success in the competition once again this year in Jakarta, Indonesia.